The Discovery | Learning through Exploration

Anikin Allen in Da Vinci’s Corner. | Katherine E. Hill

The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, known as The Discovery, is a science center that fosters exploration of scientific principles through hands-on learning. Featuring a variety of exhibits focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), The Discovery provides an informal environment for learning how these principles apply to our lives and to the world.

Anikin Allen tubes in the Truckee River that is part of the Truckee Connects exhibit. | Katherine E. Hill

My family has been to The Discovery many times and loves to go. One day after school, my sister, Katherine Hill, and I surprise my son, Anikin, and take him to visit The Discovery in Reno, Nev. Anikin is thrilled and has a hard time containing his excitement as we make the short drive to the museum.

We arrive and Anikin bounces and fidgets with anticipation as we buy our tickets and takes off running into the museum. Our first stop is the Inside Out: An Anatomy Experience exhibition. Intended to help us better understand the human body, Inside Out, presents this knowledge with fun, interactive activities.

Lake Tahoe, the damn and the Truckee River.

We have fun testing our color blindness, placing puzzle pieces of the digestive system in a model of the human body and watch the variations in our heartbeat with a heart rate monitor. We only scratch the surface of this exhibition before Anikin takes off to the next one.

As we continue to navigate the museum, we find ourselves in Da Vinci’s Corner. This space is filled with experiments and tasks in honor of the Father of Invention, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was knowledgeable in many subjects, including anatomy, music, science, engineering and cartography. He spent most of his life inventing and investigating the world and this exhibition is a tribute to his work.

Anikin and Michelle Allen explore the inventions in Da Vinci’s Corner. | Katherine E. Hill

In Da Vinci’s Corner, Anikin spends most of the time playing with the motion picture simulator, which creates an illusion of motion by rotating pictures around a spinning cylinder. He also enjoys the exhibit that demonstrates the concepts of loft and flight and practices knocking down blocks with a catapult.

After Da Vinci’s Corner, we enter the featured exhibition, Mindbender Mansion. This unique experience features variously themed puzzles and brainteasers to exercise the mind. Each of the exhibits encourages participants to solve the problem at hand to reveal hidden clues and to decipher secret passwords. There are 40 individual and four group activities in the mansion offering a mental challenge for every age.

In the Mindbender Mansion, we find some of the puzzles easy to solve and others much harder. We come across one puzzle that we attempt to solve but we are not successful. We each try several times thinking with each round we can get to the bottom of the puzzle. Eventually, we must admit defeat. As we walk away, I can’t help but continue to contemplate the answer.

We collect enough clues to use them to reveal a secret password to unlock one of the vaults in the mansion. We have fun exploring several more activities before Anikin is off again.

Anikin Allen in the Cloud Climber. | Katherine E. Hill

Next are Anikin’s favorite exhibit – Cloud Climber and Truckee Connects. Truckee Connects is a model of the Truckee River watershed, following the origin of its water from Lake Tahoe to its final destination in Pyramid Lake. Anikin enjoys getting wet as he manipulates the flow of the water by moving parts within the model. He doesn’t realize it but he is learning how water can provide electricity, irrigation, recreation and wildlife habitat.

Cloud Climber is a multi-leveled climbing structure protected by netting that stretches from the floor of the lower level to the roof of the museum. A challenge for the young and the young at heart.

There are many other permanent exhibits including the Spark! Lab Smithsonian, Science Underground, Little Discoveries, for explorers that are age 5 and younger; and many more. Each exhibit is an opportunity to learn more and to broaden the brain’s cognitive ability.

Anikin Allen places organs in the correct location for a digestive system puzzle as part of the Inside Out exhibit. | Katherine E. Hill

Even after spending several hours navigating the museum, we realize that there is not enough time to check out everything so we decide we will come back soon.

Kat, Anikin and I leave the museum shortly before closing and walk next door to Holey Schmidt! Donuts. As we walk in, we are greeted by a large selection of decedent flavors. Anikin picks a doughnut with white frosting and sprinkles, Kat chooses a Red Velvet and I finally decide on a Bavarian crème with chocolate frosting. Indulgent, but extremely delicious.

We head back to the car as we talk about how much fun we had and how exciting it will be to come back again. Kat and I talk about coming back to attend one of the Science Distilled lectures or perhaps the Chemistry of the Cocktail (includes cocktails and food) held every year in November. Other events include Teen Science Nights, Family Science Nights and the popular Social Science series.

With an amazing array of exhibit and events for every age, there are many reasons for us to come back to The Discovery soon. | nvdm.org